November 11 symbolizes freedom, democracy and sacrifice. But the aftermath of the presidential election in the United States has represented these things in a conflicted light.
Both major candidates had their flaws, so this is not to address them on their personalities. Donald Trump won the election, and no matter how voters feel about it, won within the bounds of democracy. The applicable cliché is that wars were fought and won to preserve the democratic system that was used, and is a privilege many other nations do not have.
Yet the day after the American vote, anti-Trump protesters, yelling expletives and in some cases damaging property, spilled into the streets after the announcement of the winner because they were upset with the outcome. They had little basis to protest because properly conducted voting is one of the fairest ways of deciding leadership. The person who is elected (by whatever system is in place and not necessarily who got the most votes) isn’t always who you vote for.
Demonstrating to remove that person from power, or not recognizing them as a legitimately elected authority goes against a system that cost the world countless lives for nations like the U.S. and Canada to defend.
Still, the fighting in two world wars in the last century didn’t only secure democracy, but also freedom of speech and the right to protest. A population upset with its government is not new or uncommon. In a democracy, anybody can disagree with a leader and disagree out loud. As long as things remain peaceful, protestors should be able to express their opinion short of a coercive demand for the reversal of a democratically determined result. Attempting to stop a protest would probably require law-breaking techniques at a minimum, and would obstruct basic freedoms.
On Nov. 11, this year and every year, let’s all show some respect for the freedoms that we so easily take for granted every day in our great countries. While we’re at it, let’s show some respect for opinions that differ from our’s.